Naples, Italy: ‘Defend the City’ (‘Difendi la Città’)

Naples, Italy

Naples, Italy

Naples, scarred and sublime, is now in a fight against defamation.  One of its latest battles is online.

This city of secrets has eyes everywhere … now they are wanted in the digital world.

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Naples, Italy: a towering view, and a night of art in a royal palace

Last June we had an eccentric, wonderful evening trip up the ‘red tower’ in Naples, Italy, followed by a night visit to the art gallery at Capodimonte. I wrote about it then but here’s a repaint … better, I hope.

The Phraser

The eye-catching 'La Torre di Rò' (Torre del Palasciano) in Naples, Italy The eye-catching ‘La Torre di Rò’ (Torre del Palasciano) in Naples, Italy

Some evenings unwrap like the best parcels – one surprise at a time.  This is one of those evenings.

We’re part of another Curiosity Tour of Naples.  I’d signed us up for two reasons – the first was to visit the old red tower I’d seen above Naples so often; and the second was to show our visiting artists the Museo di Capodimonte.

The tower is part of our lives here in Naples.  We see it on every trip along the tangenziale from the airport at Capodichino.  It stands tall and mysterious above the dark green of the bosco di Capodimonte.  It is an exotic exclamation mark above a city outlined in rectangles.

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Naples, Italy: on its way to the New Year

I first posted a version of this piece this time last year. This is a relaunch – more photographs, less story – a thank you to a city that gave us so much.

The Phraser

Image from a t-shirt design by 'Officina Flegrea' Image from a t-shirt design by ‘Officina Flegrea’ –

In the summer of 2014 we arrived in our new home on the outskirts of Naples.  We left this autumn.  Two years in total, two years in which we were privileged to see places many Neapolitans themselves never get the chance to visit.  Some of the sights we saw were outside the city but many were squeezed into its narrow streets.

This post, mainly of photographs, is a glance at the context, at some of the neighbourhoods and corners, that frame a few of those places that were in Naples itself.

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Napoli wore pearls yesterday


A look back (first published 7.1.16): Days without sunshine in Naples, Italy feel wrong … but when they pass the relief is like the burst of light at the end of an unexpected tunnel.

The Phraser

Vesuvius at the end of the Lungomare in Naples, Italy Vesuvius at the end of the Lungomare in Naples, Italy

When light bounces off the sea, then rises up through blue sky towards the sun it takes your heart with it … at least it does on the seafront in Naples, Italy.  It’s impossible to resist, like a balloon freed by the breeze, up and up it goes.

Yesterday was one of those days.

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I’ve just read the Napoli section of Goethe’s ‘Italian Journey’

A look back (first published on 6 January 2016): Naples is not a ‘do-in-a-day-city’ – it’s a city with roots, a city that takes time, a city that feels like it might be time itself. Even Goethe lost his rhythm here.

The Phraser

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (portrait by Stieler 1828)

There are names I heard at school that are still buried beneath teacher dust. Names I’ve never looked at again – unreachable, academic names.  Goethe was one of them.

Then, a few weeks ago, I bumped into him on the internet and I read his notes on Naples.  They were a happy find.

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Ancient Stabiae and its villas, once so luxurious, and then ….

A look back (first published 8 September 2015): there was a sense of being slightly apart from the ‘real world’ at these two villas, of being caught between the ‘was’ and the ‘is’. They felt tranquil., dormant.

The Phraser

Looking over the top of the Villa Arianna in Stabiae towards Vesuvius Looking over the top of the Villa Arianna in Stabiae towards Vesuvius

We stand in a mid-day drowse, like the citizens of ancient Rome must have stood – the sun is warm; the sea glistens; and there is the distant rise and fall of bells.  Behind us roll green hills and to our front, the double-backed outline of Vesuvius steals the horizon.

So peaceful … yet it never has been, and still is not.  There remains a threat below the surface.

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Herculaneum Papyri in the National Library in Naples

A look back (this was first published on 30 March 2015): I’m new to papyrology but I’ve never seen anything as brain-crackingly slow or detailed as the work being done by these academics.

The Phraser

Herculaneum papyrus Naples A papyrus scroll – not quite destroyed by Vesuvius

The photograph above is of a papyrus scroll from a private library buried by Vesuvius in AD 79.

There are hundreds of scrolls like it, all scarred keepers of ancient thought.  So far it has taken almost two thousand years to unpick a fraction of their secrets.

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